Wesley Burns was his family’s protector, provider, and teacher, one of the most reliable people his family and neighbors knew. He was born in Bozeman, Montana on a brutally frigid day in February 1932. He was raised on a ranch in Sedan, Montana, which he continued to own and take pride in until his sudden passing at the age of 90 on the morning of October 29, 2022.
Wes’s father passed away when he was two making his upbringing harsh in many ways. He spent his childhood in the mountains and worked on ranches through grade school and high school. He harvested his first elk at age 9, and then nearly every year after until age 85.
Wes was drafted into the Korean War at age 19. His virtual inability to get lost in the mountains and his extraordinary skill with firearms sent him to the front lines. A General noticed Wes when he saw him throw a tin can in the air then empty his military 1911 45 caliber pistol before it hit the ground. The impressed General assigned Wes to a special intelligence unit.
During his time in the war, he spent most of his time alone carrying Top Secret messages between Generals. His instructions were to eat the message if captured but to avoid capture at all costs. Thus, he necessarily watched for signs of being hunted rather than reading signs as a hunter. Of course, he had not met such danger in the Montana mountains.
Wes travelled after discharge, but the mountains of Montana pulled him home. He studied natural resources relating to forestry at Montana State University.
Soon after leaving MSU, Wesley created a logging company and settled in Townsend, MT. There he met the love of his life, Arla Pennington. Arla was vivacious and quick-witted to Wes’s laidback and quiet disposition: a stunning couple indeed.
They eventually moved to Belgrade where they were blessed with two daughters both inheriting their father’s independence. Wes eventually left logging but never lost the love of logging, even while working for Figgins Sand and Gravel for years.
His off time was spent with his “girls” or helping friends and family with everything from hunting problem mountain lions and coyotes to breaking horses no one else would work with.
He maintained that his daughter’s success in life was his biggest accomplishment. Wes was incredibly pleased and had a sense of relief that both daughters graduated from college and had established careers. As luck would have it both daughters married men that were not only capable of taking care of them, but they also became his sons and friends. They filled Wes’s life in a different way than his daughters did. They spent many hours in each other’s company happily doing anything from working on the ranch, hunting, fishing, and fixing machinery to eating a good steak and watching football or motocross.
Wes thought his life was complete until his grandson Wesley Dullum was born. Becoming Grandpa Wes brought youth back and a renewed passion for ensuring the success of another human. Grandpa Wes and Wesley spent hours scouring the mountains. Grandpa Wes taught Wesley how to be comfortable in the woods, how to read animal signs, and how to operate and be comfortable with weapons. He taught Wes how not to get lost in the mountains and how to know if something was hunting him not just how to hunt something. The lessons taught to his grandson and the memories made with Grandpa will ensure a good life for a grandson he thought the sun rose and set on.
Wesley is survived by his daughters Shauna (Chris Dullum), Sharla (Chris Anderson), his beloved grandson Wesley Dullum and many friends. His wife Arla, his parents and all of his siblings preceded him in death. Private family services will follow with a Celebration of Life at the Ranch, which is where Wes wanted to be laid to rest and will be announced at a later date. Condolences can be sent to PO Box 482, Belgrade, MT 59714.